Spiced quail with herby couscous and yoghurt

Serves: 6
Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour

    What you need


    • 12
    • 4 tbsp
      olive oil
    • 1 tbsp
      ground coriander
    • 1 tsp
      ground cumin
    • 1 tsp
      hot smoked paprika
    • 1 pinch
      of ground cloves
    • 2
      garlic cloves, peeled and crushed to a paste
    • 2 tbsp
    • 1
      juice of 1 lemon
    • 2
      large onions, peeled and finely chopped
    • 2
      garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
    • 331/3 cup
      sultanas (golden raisins)
    • 1 litre/1¾ pints/4 cups
      chicken or vegetable stock
    • 500 g/1lb 2oz/scant 3 cups
    • of herbs – parsley, coriander and chives
    • zest and juice of 1 lemon
    • salt and pepper


    • 1Find a big bowl or two for the quails. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, then add the spices and cook for a minute or so, stirring continuously. Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds, then remove from the heat and tip into a mixing bowl.
    • 2Add the honey and lemon juice, along with a good pinch of salt. Leave until completely cool, then rub all over the birds to marinate for as long as you can manage.
    • 3As the base for the couscous, heat a good slug of oil in a large saucepan over a medium-low heat and add the onions.
    • 4Cook for about 30 minutes, stirring regularly, until sweet and sticky. Add the garlic and sultanas and season with salt and pepper. Cook for a further minute, then take off the heat.
    • 5Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas mark 7. Put the birds in a large roasting pan, with a little space between them. Spoon over any extra marinade that might be lurking in the bottom of the mixing bowl, then roast the quails for 20 minutes, resting for a further 5-10 minutes.
    • 6Meanwhile, bring the stock to a boil. Stir the couscous through the onion mixture, then pour the stock over the couscous until just covering. Stir briefly, then cover with a tea towel and leave for 5 minutes. Roughly chop the herbs and stir through the couscous, along with the lemon juice and zest and a good pinch of salt.
    • 7Serve the quails and couscous with a lemon wedge and a dollop of yogurt.

    Serving tips

    Serve the quails and couscous with a lemon wedge and a dollop of yogurt.

    “This is a gorgeous, sticky, hands-on operation – one for the kitchen roll, as opposed to the best napkins. Introduce the birds to their marinade the day before you need them ideally; on the day, all you need do is get the quails out of the fridge and into the oven. Quails are quite forgiving birds, so don’t be afraid to give them another 5 minutes to crisp up if that’s what they need. They’re small, so you need at least two each, though a very hungry person could probably demolish three.”

    James Ramsden

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